#18 Milo, Leeds

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When your gigs have a queue round the block you get to choose which block it is, how the block feels inside and what songs are playing before you play.

With a more modest queue, expect to choose bugger all and come on stage to colourful disco lights, thumping club beats bleeding through from the main room downstairs and pissed up revellers spilling their drinks on each other.

I’ve never played a gig in Leeds before, but quite a large number of people had come out to see us play. They were easy to spot as they sat in such sharp relief against the wasted girls in greyhound skirts. … Read the rest

#17 The Source, Carlisle

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On paper, this whole day was one long catalogue of woe. So much so that when the promoter, filling in for a cancelled support act, started covering ‘Spider Pig‘, I barely batted an eyelid. But life is not lived on paper, so what really happened?… Read the rest

#16 The Castle, Manchester

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There are occasional moments, such as when a sell-out crowd in a far-away city you’ve never played before are singing out all the words to your songs, that you think “wait… is this what it’s like when things go really well? Cos this is frickin awesome”.

These moments arise at oblique angles and it’s rare that everything necessary for them to happen actually happens together. A bit like those Channel 4 idents where for 23 seconds you watch the camera move around a seemingly random set of objects, until for an instant they align to reveal the number 4, and then the moment’s gone and you’re left shouting at the TV like an idiot “Go back foolish cameraman!! It made sense back there for a second and you went straight past it!”.… Read the rest

#15 The Trades, Hebden Bridge

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“They said that they loved you, but they used you as a playground when they were young”
Love Letter To London – Luke Haines

Where do all those people go who loved growing up in London but ‘don’t think it’s right to raise kids there’? I bet a fair few emigrate to Hebden Bridge, and I can’t say I blame them.… Read the rest

#14 Puzzle Hall, Sowerby Bridge

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Looking back on these blogs it’s rare for me to be short of words. Does anyone actually read these things to the end? I think they’re mostly for my own benefit – a channel to spew out random thoughts instead of them rattling around my brain. My career might last another 50 years or 5 minutes so I might as well document it while it lasts.

When I was younger record deals were mystical treasure controlled by cigar-smoking demi-gods in stripey suits. Wooing them wasn’t me, so I just decided to work my ass off instead.… Read the rest

#13 Independent, Sunderland

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Somewhere between too many free whiskies at 4am and me thrashing her repeatedly at pool, Lisa had lost her purse. We turned the hotel upside down but with no joy. Initial grief makes way for self-flagelation. I’m SUCH an idiot… it’s a feeling I know well after years of practice.

John and Lisa pointed the van in the direction of Sunderland. I bet they wonder how I ever managed without them tour managing. I seem to have developed a reputation as someone who couldn’t find his way out of a crisp packet without
P!… Read the rest

#12 Great Western Hotel, Hartlepool

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Going on stage after a giant novelty cheque for £30,000 has been handed to someone always presents its own unique set of challenges.

Rule one is to remember the time-honoured charity / wedding gig mantra which should always be tattooed in temporary reverse mirror writing on your forehead so you can read it whenever you catch a passing glance of yourself in the bathroom mirror…… Read the rest

#11 Marrs Bar, Worcester

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By 1am I’d done nothing. Not the TV, film, book, tidy the flat kind of nothing, but nothing. Nothing except look at Facebook and feel bored out of my brains cos I wasn’t doing a gig. My night off at home was a let down, so thank God for Worcester the next day.

I’d been quite worried about this gig actually. Well… as worried as I get about these things – it takes a lot to rattle me. We’d done one support set there for Ed Sheeran a few months back (wow if I’d been writing blogs back then I’d have a tale to tell…), but not a lot else. Would anyone show up? The full band hadn’t played together for ages either – was this going to work?… Read the rest

#10 Berit’s & Brown, Eurocentral

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“Everybody’s got a story to tell, tell me yours” Tom McQ.

The Scottish dates have come to a close, so I thought I’d jot down some creeping conclusions…

Artists and fans alike exist because we think music has intense value. It can make us feel emotional highs and lows, sometimes it understands us better than anyone. Is good music the goal in itself?

Recently I’ve been thinking maybe not. Music feels like just a vehicle through which we try to understand ourselves and each other. A key to enter each others worlds, but what do those worlds look like? What happens there? There the real work begins.… Read the rest

#9 ABC2, Glasgow

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I wanna share a little lesson I learned about 13 years too late. The main ingredients for looking after your singing voice are:
– lots of good, uninterupted sleep
– not drinking too much alcohol
– plenty of water (at room temperature if possible)
– regular days off

I woke up in Dunfermline after 4 hours of sleep, feeling hungover and dehydraded having done a gig every night for 8 nights. At the point where I’d let go a little John was there to pick up the slack. I fell into the van and we rolled into Glasgow, and the biggest gig of the tour.… Read the rest